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No Words

December 14, 2013

Today marks a black anniversary.  A day when evil walked into a school and 26 innocent people never walked out again.  One year later the shock and horror are still fresh.  To know of that tragedy is to be irrevocably changed.

For the loved ones of those lost that day, for the children and educators who survived the massacre, life will never be the same.  Every day will be a struggle to cope with their loss, to deal with their trauma.  Parents will wake up every morning and realize anew that their babies are gone.  Children will hear the screams of their classmates in their dreams.  There are no words for that kind of devastation.

Honestly, I have nothing to say that is of any real consequence.  Writing about it won’t heal any broken hearts or bring back any loved ones.  A blog post certainly isn’t going to change the world.  And yet I feel compelled to post.

What strikes me about this tragedy is how deeply it affected so many people.  Last night a group of us were talking about the anniversary and several people who are not even parents said they had been completely distraught at the news, sobbing at the thought of those children trapped and hunted down in cold blood in a place where they should have felt safe.  Random violence is always horrific, and there are tragedies that happen every day to children all over the world, so what was it about Sandy Hook that impacted us all so much?

First and foremost, I think we often think of bad things happening elsewhere, to people in other countries and in different situations.  Sandy Hook was a grim reminder that we are vulnerable.  It could happen to us.  We could wake up one morning, hit the snooze button one too many times, snap at our children to HURRY UP, nag them to brush their teeth, and blow them a harried kiss as we drop them off at school.

We could get a voice mail from our school district headquarters telling us there has been an incident.  We could call our spouse, fear beginning its cold slide up our spine.  We could text our friends in a panic, asking if they know anything as we drop everything and race to our children’s school.

We could arrive to find chaos, emergency vehicles and terrified parents crowding the school grounds.  We could fall from our cars in shock, the reality of the situation beginning to sink in as we desperately search for our children.  We could be the “lucky” ones and feel our hearts swell in relief as we find them physically unharmed but permanently scarred.

Or we could be the ones clinging to one another, sobbing and trying to quell the rising terror, waiting for the news that will destroy us.

We could be the spouses who rush past each other on our way out the door to work, never imagining we would end the day widowed, our spouses deemed heroes and our children left behind.

We could be the educators who walk into school thinking of holiday parties and who end up shielding screaming children from a madman, our last thoughts of our own families and of the children we couldn’t save.

We could be the first responders, the professionals whose job it is to step into the fray, seeing images that will haunt us for the rest of our days.

It could have been us.  It could be us.  Innocence was lost that day in more ways than one.

The impact of the Sandy Hook massacre is profound and long reaching.  It’s ripples can be felt halfway across the world.  The people of Newtown are forever changed, and we all find ourselves holding our children a little tighter today as we reflect.

So what can we do with the knowledge that evil and violence can find us anywhere?  That we can’t protect our children?  That the world is full of examples of man’s inhumanity towards man?  We can become paralyzed and bitter, or we can shine our own light even brighter.  We can become beacons of love and kindness, fighting back the darkness.

Nothing can bring back those lost that day.  But we can all recognize the fragility of life and of human connections and treasure them.  Today we can choose love.

 

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